In the mid-1990s the members of Bray Urban District Council recognised the opportunity when tax breaks were introduced for multistorey car parks, seeing it as an opportunity to go beyond a mere carpark and to reboot the town centre by using the tax breaks as a catalyst to bring modern retail infrastructure to be sited on the town carpark.
Three different planning applications ensued between 1997 and 2004, each being appealed to An Bord Pleanála, and each being more extensive and more expensive. Even though considerable expenditure took place on enabling infrastructure, the scheme was never completed.
The start of the recession coincided with the latest planning permission and eventually the portion of the site not in public ownership was put into receivership.
It has been the policy of Bray Town Council since 2010, when the Council adopted an economic strategy for the town (proposed by the Bray Economic Think Tank) to purchase the part of the site owned by Ballymore Properties so that the Council could have control of this critical site.
Over the years, when it became apparent that the development was not going to proceed, Bray Town Council engaged actively with the developer and in more recent years with the receiver to acquire Ballymore Properties’ interest in the site. This was eventually achieved just over two years ago.
While private finance is required to deliver the centre, Bray Town Council (now replaced by Wicklow County Council and the Bray Municipal District) was determined to control the delivery of the project, rather than simply put the site up for tender and hand it to a developer who might have their own agenda.
The key ambition is to regenerate the town centre for the citizens of Bray rather than to maximise the return from the site. The delivery of a functioning centre as soon as possible is central to this ambition. Property advisors and an architect with extensive town centre retail redevelopment were retained to design a centre to the feasibility stage, and to seek out tenants who might be interested in locating in it.
The principal aim of the new scheme is to complement the existing retail offer and in the process to reinvigorate the shopping experience in Bray both for existing businesses and citizens alike. It is envisaged it will consist of:
- 256 car parking spaces at lower ground floor level with 320 cycle spaces
- Anchor Store 1 (on upper ground and first floor) (3,004 sqm)
- Anchor Store 2 (upper ground floor) (1,137 sqm)
- 8 retail units at upper ground floor level and at first floor level (total 3,449 sqm)
- 3 restaurant units at upper ground floor level (one spanning first floor level) (985 sqm)
- 3 business units at first floor level (545 sqm)
- 5 screen cinema at upper ground, first and second floor levels (2,410.5 sqm)
- Change of use of Nos. 6-7 Eglinton Road (protected structures) from residential to office use, demolition of rear returns and out buildings (144 sqm), construction of a glazed link extension to the rear of the structures) and refurbishment of previous office use at No.8 Eglinton Road (total 870 sqm)
- New urban street accessed from Main Street into the new development creating a central plaza with pedestrian access from Quinsborough Road, incorporating an events space, seating, landscaping and kiosks
- Demolition of Nos. 3 and 4 Florence Villas, Florence Road, (188 sqm) and creating a new vehicular access for services at this location
- Demolition of No. 7 Main Street (194 sqm)
- Demolition of the façade of No.5 Main Street
- Demolition of bottle shed (75 sqm) to rear of No. 2 Quinsborough Road
- Public vehicular access off Florence Road into car parking area
- Pedestrian entrances from Main Street, Eglinton Road, Quinsborough Road and Florence Road
- Associated plant, site services, circulation areas, bin storage, lifts, ESB storage, ancillary storage, boundary treatments and all ancillary works
Planning permission was granted by An Bord Pleanala on 12 January 2017
This will be a new street that will have its own character. It will be an attractive civic space in which to sit over a cup of coffee and enjoy local produce and services. The presence of the cinema and restaurants will add vibrancy to the town’s evening economy. This is only the beginning of the journey: planning, finance, and tenants will have to be secured.
This project is ongoing at the present time